05/05/2004 12:00AM

Old Deuteronomy live on surface switch


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - One strategy for buying a European horse for American racing is to purchase a stakes runner with a dirt pedigree. Placed on a different surface, these horses sometimes improve, putting themselves in position to chase lucrative purses in main-track stakes.

Others long for the return to the grass. Old Deuteronomy is one such example.

In Friday's $49,100 allowance feature at Churchill Downs, he will get that opportunity, weather permitting. Old Deuteronomy is entered in a full field of one-other-than allowance runners in the ninth race, a one-mile turf contest.

, a 3-year-old son of Storm Cat out of the Seeking the Gold mare Jewel in the Crown, has the bloodlines to take to dirt racing, but to this point has not exhibited the desire. He flashed speed in two sprints on dirt in March and April before fading to fourth and sixth, respectively.

Based on his past performances in Europe last year, a form reversal might be forthcoming. He was twice group-placed in 2003, including a second in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes.

He also has twice worked bullets over the Churchill Downs turf course. Robby Albarado rides for trainer Niall O'Callaghan, who successfully converted European acquisitions Keats and Wiseman's Ferry into graded stakes winners in America.

Working in Old Deuteronomy's favor is that one of his chief opponents, the front-running Puget Sound, is stuck on the also-eligible list.

If fails to draw into the race, Wind in Your Face looms the main threat. A 5-year-old son of Sky Classic, he enters Friday's race in peak form. He was twice third at Keeneland last month, both times earning Beyer Speed Figures in the upper 80's.

Last time, when stalking a slow pace April 22, he surged to take the lead in midstretch before weakening late to lose by 1 3/4 lengths. Mark Guidry rides.

Other contenders are Mr. Trieste, a talented Old Trieste colt making his turf debut, and Dynareign, a seasoned Dynaformer colt whose last victory came on the Churchill Downs turf course in May of last year.

* Friday's card also includes an entry-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies, carded as the third race on a 10-race card. Oneofacat, who ran third behind Cherry Bomb and Vision of Beauty in an allowance at Keeneland April 8, looms a short-priced standout in the one-mile dirt race. Gold Margarita and Bella Bianca head the opposition.